Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine accused of sexual abuse
Nov. 18, 2011
Syracuse (WSYR-TV/AP) - Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine
has been placed on administrative leave amidst sex abuse allegations. ESPN
is reporting two former ball boys claim they were molested by Fine in the late 1970s through the 1990s.
Syracuse police say they are in the very early stages of an investigation. As part of their investigation, police are asking anyone with information about any past or recent sexual abuse cases involving Fine to contact them at 442-5222. All calls will be kept confidential.
One alleged victim, Bobby Davis, who is now in 39, told ESPN he was abused by Fine for six years, at Fine's home, at the university basketball facilities, and on the road. Davis was the team's ball boy for six years beginning in 1984. A second alleged victim, Mike Lang, who is now 45, is Davis' stepbrother, and was also a ball boy for several years. Lang told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that Fine molested him starting when Lang was in the fifth or sixth grade.
Syracuse University confirms that coach Fine had been the focus of an internal investigation in 2005, when one of the men approached them. He told the university he'd reported his story to police, but the case was dropped because the statute of limitations had run out.
The university, however, followed up on their own. The university's senior vice president for public affairs, Kevin Quinn recounted their actions in a statement:
"On hearing of the allegations in 2005, the University immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel. That nearly four-month long investigation included a number of interviews with people the complainant said would support his claims. All of those identified by the complainant denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. The associate coach also vehemently denied the allegations." Click here
to see the university’s full statement.
NewsChannel 9 spoke with Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, who has had his job for the past 20 years. He doesn’t recall ever hearing from the accuser. He checked with his staff and they’re also unaware of any past or current sexual abuse accusation against Coach Fine. His office will review their records Friday.
Fine is in his 35th season as assistant to head coach Jim Boeheim. NewsChannel 9 has reached out to the Fine family. They would not comment.
Head basketball coach Jim Boeheim released a statement
late Thursday night. In his statement, Boeheim says "Bernie has his full support" and the "matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded."
One day before the allegations resurfaced, SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor posted a message to students, faculty and staff at SU, detailing their responsibility to ensure the university remains a safe place for each and every community member. She said, "Our campus code of ethics and other guidelines call upon us to act and respond promptly in ways that create and sustain the most productive and supportive environment possible for all in our community. While we all must be vigilant to prevent instances of violence of any kind, today we want to provide clear direction regarding actual or suspected abuse or violence against our most vulnerable members of society—children." And with that she began detailing specific actions to follow in reporting witnessed or suspected child abuse.
The accusations come on the heels of the Penn State case
in which longtime former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. The case cost Joe Paterno his job, and former school administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are charged with not properly alerting authorities to suspected abuse and perjury.